Footage of 11-year-old Grammy Award-winning singer and instrumentalist Prince was discovered in a news outlet’s archive.
The 52-year-old footage showed the young Prince, whose real name was Prince Rogers Nelson, being interviewed by a WCCO reporter as teachers from a local school picketed in the background. It was recorded in April 1970, when Minneapolis Public Schools educators went on strike.
“Are most of the kids in favor of the picketing,” the reporter asked him.
“I think they could get a better education too, and I think they should get some more money cuz they work extra hours for us [students] and all that stuff,” Nelson responded.
WCCO production manager Matt Liddy was reportedly speechless after seeing the late superstar appear in a 13-minute video restored by the news channel. The restoration gave context to Prince’s age and when the strike happened.
“I grew up in Minneapolis, so all I cared about was looking at cool old buildings from the place I grew up. Did I recognize my old school? Did I recognize any landmarks?” said Liddy.
Once he saw Nelson, he went to the newsroom and told fellow staff members that he believed the little boy on the video was the legendary musician.
“I immediately just went out to the newsroom and started showing people and saying, ‘I’m not gonna tell you who I think this is, but who do you think this is?’ And every single person [said] ‘Prince,'” he said.
Although the production manager was sure he saw Nelson, he had to verify whether or not it was him because the reporter in the news clip didn’t ask the child’s name.
He then asked historian and archeologist Kristen Zschomler for assistance. She has been a dedicated fan of Prince for quite some time and has researched his life extensively. The historian knew his life dating from his youth until he became a superstar.
“They called him Skipper,” Zschomler told Liddy as she revealed a family photo of Prince as a toddler. “I’ve written a big document sort of outlining his historic journey from Minneapolis’ northside to Paisley Park and the world.”
She added that videos of Nelson as a pre-teen were nearly non-existent and that she hadn’t seen any. However, when she saw WCCO’s clip of him, she confirmed that it was the famous musician.
“I think that’s him, definitely. Oh my gosh. Yeah, I think that’s definitely Prince,” she said. “This definitely looks like Lincoln Junior High School, where he would have been attending school in April of 1970.”
Zschomler showed Liddy a sixth-grade photo of Nelson during the same school year as the initial Minneapolis Public Schools strike. He compared it to WCCO’s video, and the kid’s hairstyle looked precisely the same.
“I think just seeing Prince as a young child in his neighborhood school, you know, it helps really ground him to that Minneapolis connection,” the devoted fan said. “Even if they’re momentary glimpses into what Minneapolis meant to him, what he stood up for when he lived in Minneapolis, just helps understand that symbiotic connection he had to his hometown.”
The twin city-born artist passed away from an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota on Apr. 21, 2016. He was 57 years old.